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Sir Robert Brown BLACK

Doctor of Laws
honoris causa

I have often wondered why so many universities choose the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa with which to do honour to persons who, in very many instances, have had little or nothing to do with the law, except perhaps for the fact that they have not fallen foul of it.

Our University, for example, has conferred this degree on medical practitioners, merchants, bankers, and others wholly unconnected with the law; and elsewhere I have known it to be given also to members of the legal profession whose claim to be called lawyers cannot be said to be a strong one. Research, I am told, has failed to disclose the reason for such a choice. It is possible that it stems from the maxim, which incidentally does not embody the true principle, that everyone is presumed to know the law. But whatever may be the true reason, there is no doubt of its fitness on this occasion, for to paraphrase from a recent local publication it may be said that in Hong Kong the law is the Governor's law, for some of it he has inherited and some he has made himself, either alone or with the advice of his Councils. Indeed, the power of law-making for the peace, order, and good government of the Colony is specifically conferred on the Governor by his Letters Patent.

Nor, as regards today's ceremony can there be any question of the outstanding merit of the recipient.

Our graduand came to Hong Kong as Colonial Secretary, and sat on the Court and Council of this University from January 1952 to April 1955. Promotion in the Service deprived us of his counsels for a number of years. But he made a most welcome return as Governor of the Colony and Chancellor of the University in January 1958, since when, under his aegis, we embarked on our Seven Year Plan and celebrated our Golden Jubilee.

It should be recorded that during his Governorship and in large measure thanks to his keen and active interest in education, the number of places for students in our schools and colleges has doubled, a fact of especial note and peculiar interest to an institution of higher learning.

Mr Vice-Chancellor, for his distinguished service as Chancellor of this University and Governor of Hong Kong we request that you confer upon Sir Robert Brown Black the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa.

Citation written and delivered by Dr Leo D’Almada E Castro, CBE, QC, LLD, the Public Orator of the University.

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